Tag Archives: Cabo San Lucas

An Exceptional Evening at Jamison Farm

An Exceptional Evening at Jamison Farm

Ron and I have spoken of viewing some of the properties designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for several years. In late July of this year, Ron read an article in the New York Times that set the wheels in motion, literally, for us to do that and put a plan in place.

In 1991, Frank Lloyd Wright was recognized by the American Institute of Architects as “the greatest American architect of all time.” He believed in “designing structures that were in harmony with humanity and its environment, a philosophy he called organic architecture.”

As we always take a different route back to Cabo San Lucas, we decided to make a trip through Frank Lloyd Wright country and visit some of the places we read about in the article. Ron and I both love lamb and looked on the internet to find out more about Jamison Farm, located near Latrobe, Pennsylvania (home of the late, great Arnold Palmer), that the article spoke very highly of. It turned out that a Harvest Dinner was planned for October 22nd, was limited to 18 people, and promised lessons, recipes, stories and dinner. We immediately booked our seats at the table.

John and Sukey Jamison's Farmhouse

John and Sukey Jamison’s Farmhouse

We took our fine bottle of Duoro (the event was BYOW) and made our way from Latrobe to Jamison Farm (thank goodness for GPS!). We were among the first guests to arrive and we were delighted to meet an eclectic group of diners, most of whom were from the area or at least from somewhere in the state of Pennsylvania.

The 210-acre Jamison Farm is owned by John and Sukey Jamison, who have lived here since the 1960’s, and have been raising free range lamb and developing their reputation for purveying America’s best since that time. Their lamb is purely grass fed and free of hormones, antibiotics, herbicides and pesticides. The local geography, selection of natural grasses, rotational grazing, and annual rainfall (approximately 50 inches) provide meat that tastes like the pastures the lambs graze on.

The Black Sheep in the Jamison's Flock

The Black Sheep in the Jamison’s Flock

It had been a particularly cold and rainy day, so walking into the Jamison farm house with fires burning in various rooms made us all feel warm and welcome. John is the story teller and Sukey is the chef – a great partnership that reflected both personalities and complementary talents.

The Jamison’s sitting room is filled with signed cookbooks from some of the world’s most wellknown chefs and of other famous people who have either visited the Farm or dined on their delicious lamb. John and Sukey used to trade lamb for signed cookbooks with Julia Child (John played a voice mail message Julia left on their phone years ago) and have supplied lamb and developed friendships with many of the most prominent and important chefs in America: Palladin, Boulud, Pépin, Ripert (Ron plays tennis with Eric’s wife, Sandra, in the Hamptons – she’s vivacious and lovely!), Keller, and so many more.

Assortment of Appetizers

Assortment of Appetizers

Our evening began with a lovely selection of appetizers: assorted cheeses, lamb sausage (with spinach and feta cheese) and lamb paté. We joined John in the sitting room and listened to their Farm’s history and of some of their colorful stories collected over time. The farm manager demonstrated how to prepare cuts from the hind leg of a lamb, resulting in less than 30% waste, including the thigh bone.

Demonstration of carving cuts from an upper leg of lamb

Demonstration of carving cuts from an upper leg of lamb

We were called to dinner and our group was split between two tables in the dining room. We began with an outstanding Lamb Barley Soup – a perfect start to the evening’s meal. The soup was rich with tomatoes, vegetables and the secret ingredient which was lamb stock. On such a cold evening, it was comfort food at its finest.

Lamb Barley Soup

Lamb Barley Soup

Our next course was a Mixed Greens Salad (with homemade Merguez Sausage and tossed with a Mustard Vinaigrette).

Mixed Greens with Merguez Sausage

Mixed Greens with Merguez Sausage

Our main course followed and we were served Braised Lamb Shoulder, Lamb Shank, Roasted Lamb Chop, Herb Cherry Tomatoes over Balsamic Onions, and Smashed Herb Potatoes.

Our Main Course - Lamb Three Ways

Our Main Course – Lamb Three Ways

During and between courses, we enjoyed more stories from John and conversation with our dinner companions and new friends.

Dessert, although we were almost too full by this point to enjoy it, was a light and delicious Mixed Apple Crisp with Chantilly Crème and served with a piece of their Specialty Brownie.

Our Dessert

Our Dessert

Although we didn’t partake of a cooking class (which we thought we were taking, but got a carving demonstration instead), we enjoyed a stellar evening of brilliantly cooked lamb dishes, prepared simply to fully appreciate the flavor of the meat itself. Sukey is a very talented cook who hand-prepared every dish in their charming farm kitchen. Everything we were served was absolutely delicious! We loved listening to John’s stories and hope that he finishes the book he has started writing (both John and Sukey were English majors) and record the podcasts (a new concept that we introduced to John as he is such a great storyteller) of the many tales they have to tell.

The road less traveled is always the best for us and we’re so glad that we planned our drive through the rolling foothills of Pennsylvania and experience the extraordinary flavor of the lambs that are cared for and graze on Jamison Farm.

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John Bragg’s Experience of the Late, Great Muhammed Ali

John Bragg’s Experience of the Late, Great Muhammed Ali

John and Mary Bragg

John and Mary Bragg

I’d like to introduce you to John Bragg – my “brother-in-law” who is married to my boyfriend’s amazing sister, Mary (complicated, I know!). John is many things: adventurer, entrepreneur, businessman, tequila expert, great husband, loyal friend, father, scholar, military historian, classical music lover and expert, mountain climber, gardener, kidder, but above and beyond ALL things, he is a great story teller. Just ask anyone who has had the courage to try to keep up with his pours of tequila and enjoy his stories while he holds court behind the bar!

John Bragg behind the bar at Pancho's in Cabo San Lucas

John Bragg behind the bar at Pancho’s in Cabo San Lucas

This is a story that he has written to clarify the details of his experience with the late, great Mohammed Ali – enjoy!

Muhammed Ali - The Greatest!

Muhammed Ali – The Greatest!

“In 1970 I was the Athletes Representative for Adidas Germany. My responsibility was to identify athletes with international and Olympic possibilities, and to introduce them to the top technical advantages of Adidas competitive shoes. The end goal was to have them wear the Adidas label.

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At that time, Adidas was the leading company in the world for highly technical athletic shoes. I worked directly from the headquarters in Hertzogenaurach, Germany. My area of responsibility was Track and Field, Collegiate and NFL Football, Professional Boxing, and Cross Country Skiing. I had nothing to do with sales. It was my responsibility to select those athletes that I thought would have successful athletic careers, as professionals, record champions and Track and Field members of the next Olympic Games. My approach was to become acquainted with the athletes, provide them with competitive athletic shoes and discuss shoe improvements with them.

On December 6, 1970 I had a telephone call at 3 AM. The call was from my boss, Horst Dassler, son of the founder of Adidas, Adi Dassler.  Horst told me that Adidas had an agreement with Cassius Clay (later to become Mohammed Ali), and that Clay had told Adidas that he would no longer be wearing their equipment, including his upcoming fight on December 7 with Oscar Bonavena of Argentina. Horst said that they had their guys from Germany talk to him, including the German heavy weight Gold medalist from the last Olympic Games, without any luck. I was to go immediately to New York and fix the problem.

I had not met Ali at that time, but I knew his trainer/manager Angelo Dundee.  I called Angelo at his boxing gymnasium in Florida and asked him what the problem was. He told me that Bundee Brown, Ali’s spiritual adviser, assistant trainer, corner man, poet and speech writer had said that he shouldn’t wear Adidas shoes any longer because the Germans were those guys who killed all the Jewish people during WWII. Angelo told me they were moving up to New York right away and if I came over he would get me introduced to Ali.

I flew to New York the next day, arriving at the St. Regis Hotel during a taxi strike, and showing up in California clothes during a snow storm. The next morning I met Ali at 5 am in the lobby of his hotel, which was on the other side of Central Park. Angelo told me that Ali and his boxing trainers would be going on a run before breakfast and I could talk to him at that time. In those days I was still running in 10 and 20 K’s and an occasional marathon, so I showed up in Adidas sweat clothes and running shoes. We went out into the Park with his two trainers who were huge black guys, bigger than Ali. I ran along behind them at what I felt was a pretty slow pace. We ran for a while and then went back to the hotel. Sitting in the restaurant with a frown on his face Ali said, “You laughed a few times, what was so funny?”  I told him that before I left California one of my friends who was a native New Yorker said, “whatever you do, don’t ever go through the Park after dark, you’ll probably get beat up.” “I was laughing because I thought it would be pretty funny if someone tried to beat me up when I was running with you three guys.” They got a good laugh out of that and it loosened up our conversation.

During breakfast I explained to him that the reason I was there was because Adidas had always produced the best athletic shoes in the world and it was because we depended upon the best athletes in the world to give us their thoughts about what could help us design better shoes in their sport. We discussed several things about shoe weights, foot support, traction, etc. His trainers left the table and Ali said that last night he had been at one of the famous discotecs with some friends and part of the entertainment was some dancing girls whom he said were very athletic and their footwork reminded him of his style of footwork in the ring. He said that they had short skirts that had ribbons around the bottom that swayed with their movements, much like he did in the ring. I couldn’t quite imagine what he was describing until he said “like the college kids wear on their hats”. He was talking about the tassels on graduation caps. Finally I had something that might bring him back to Adidas.

He wore a  size 11 shoe, so I called Adidas and placed a rush order of 3 pairs of white shoes with the Adidas’ three stripes in three colors and sizes: red, green and black in sizes 10, 11 and 12. They arrived at my hotel the next afternoon. Now, what about the tassels? I asked the doorman at the St. Regis Hotel if he knew where I could find a store that carried tassels; he didn’t know but said if anyone had it, it would be Macy’s. Next, arriving at Macy’s was a weird guy in California clothes coming off the snowy street. Most clerks didn’t have a clue until one of them said “you need to see Mrs. Bluestein on the 3rd floor.” Mrs. Bluestein was the tassel specialist, she had every color, every length, and many different materials. I selected three different lengths, in red, green and black in the same silky material graduation tassels were made of. Now how do we get them put together?

Rushing back to the hotel the doorman then sent me to a shoe repair shop, unlike any I had never seen before; 5 or 6 stations, bright lights, state of the art equipment and several technicians standing around. I told them what I wanted: 7 small holes punched around the top edge of the boxing shoes, the tassels attached through the holes and a strip of soft leather to cover the tassel attachments. All the techs thought this was a great idea, but told me they didn’t do this kind of work. I said “Let me use your tools”; their answer “No, we can’t do that.”

Back to the hotel, the doorman couldn’t help me but he spoke to some of his fellow workers and one of them suggested two Italian brothers who had a shoe shop near Carnegie Hall that specialized in footwear for ballet, operas, and stage events. One more hike through the cold because of the taxi strike. When I got to Carnegie Hall I found their shop on the fourth floor. Inside was a single room about the size of a large bedroom with a very high ceiling. The brothers were small men with big whiskers surrounded by stacks of all different shoe types: ballet toes, boots, shoes and leather pieces with no particular definition between unfinished pieces and those ready to go. I explained what I wanted done and they said it would be no problem, I could come back in a week. I told them I needed the shoes in two days; they said not possible. I told them what and who they were for and immediately they said they could do it in one hour, which they did and asked me to tell Ali who they were.

I put the shoes in a large paper sales bag and headed to Ali’s hotel, where Angelo met me. Their suite was rather unusual. Three rooms: the first one had only tables, couches and chairs. This was the room for newspaper and magazine writers, mostly unknown to me. The room was clouded with cigarette and cigar smoke, the tables had food of different types, beer, hard liquor and soft drinks; my impression was these guys hung out there to leech food and booze. Passing through the second room I saw Bundee watching TV and glaring at me (I must be one of the German guys!). Going into the third room was Ali laying on the bed in undershorts and watching TV. “My Man, what have you got for me?”

I started to open the shoe bag and Ali politely asked Angelo to leave, which surprised me. I brought out the shoes and you could see the surprise in his eyes. He held a shoe up and tipped it back and forth to see the swishing of the tassels, and he looked at the colors. He took the white shoe with red stripes and laced it up, stood on the carpet and shuffled back and forth looking in the door mirror. “This is the one” he said. We discussed it a bit and then I had to go. He said “Don’t tell anyone about this, not even Angelo. I’ll see you tomorrow at the weigh-in”.

The weigh-in was at Madison Square Garden in the room just below the main floor. This room was used for smaller events. For the weigh-in, all the seats and the equipment were taken out so it was an empty room with a cement floor. Up at the front there was a small platform approximately 1 foot high, 10 feet deep, and 15 feet wide. On the platform was a small table with 3 or 4 chairs and microphone and flat platform scale. The only light was above the platform and in front of it was approximately 50-75 men from the media. I was standing clear at the back in the dark.

After the weigh-in came the question and answer period. The reporters didn’t have too many questions for Bonevena, but when Ali took the microphone there were a lot of questions which he pushed aside and said, “See that guy (me) back there? He was sent over here from Germany for me to help design the best boxing shoe in the world, and you will see it for the first time tomorrow night.” This started a lot of questions of which he would answer but never tell them what was special, even when the guys would try to get him off the “secret” he would slide back.

A little side story: when the weigh-in was over, all of us were walking upstairs to the main floor where there was a college basketball game on half time warm-up. This had to be two black schools because there was not a white person on the floor. When Ali walked out everyone went crazy! The players passed a ball to him which he handled very well and began horsing around with the players until the referee told him the second half had to start. He was standing on the mid court line and took a shot that was only about 2 inches short of making basket; the crowds went wild once again. As usual he was loved by all.

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The next night, December 7, 1970, Ali won his fight over Bonavena. Ali held the top of the heavy weight boxers until March 8, 1971, the night of the “Fight of the Century” when he was defeated by Joe Frazier. Joe and Ali did not care for each other, but surprising to me when I called on Frazier’s training gym in Philadelphia, he told me he wanted the same shoe Ali had, but white with green stripes. The cover of Sports Illustrated that showed Ali landing on his back with Frazier leaning forward was probably the best success I had in the great time I had working for Adidas. World champion boxers on the cover of Sports Illustrated, the best sports magazine in the world, and both fighters wearing the shoes with the three signature stripes of Adidas. Ali with red stripes and Joe with green stripes.

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After that both fighters always wore Adidas.”

Money Monster

Earlier this week we drove to East Hampton to see a show. Aside from the movies that we watch on television in Cabo, we don’t get to theatres until we’re either on the road to or from the Hamptons or while we’re here in the Hamptons. The show we decided to see was Money Monster directed by Jodie Foster and starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts.

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George Clooney has had a house on the corridor (between Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo) at a development called El Dorado for several years. The villa is on a compound shared by his best friend, Rande Gerber, and Rande’s beautiful wife, Cindy Crawford, and is known as Casamigos (which is the name of their tequila brand, by the way, and means “house of friends”). Both villas were recently sold in April of this year for $100 million to an unnamed Mexican billionaire (the infamous Carlos Slim, owner of Mexico’s cell and landline phone businesses, perhaps?). Ron has played tennis on the El Dorado courts next to George and his wife, Amal, and our good friend, Steve, was the head pro at this resort for many years and has played tennis and basketball numerous times with the star. We hope that they build in our area again as they have a reputation for their warmth, generosity and kindness when dealing with the local people and businesses (unlike many other celebrities).

In the movie, George Clooney plays a character named Lee Gates, a Wall Street guru who picks hot stocks as host of the television show Money Monster. Suddenly, during a live broadcast, disgruntled investor Kyle Budwell storms onto the set and takes Gates hostage. He tells Lee that he lost everything because of one of his stock tips. As Gates tries to plead with Kyle, he’s also using an earpiece to communicate with his longtime producer, Patty Fenn (played by Julia Roberts), in the control room. Together, they must figure out a way to defuse the situation and disarm the angry young man.

Hating Wall Street, greedy corporations and their corrupt executives have become popular themes in movies and this film certainly embraces all three. We found this film to be a bit predictable but definitely entertaining. I gave it 3 1/2 stars and Ron gave it 4 (out of 5).

Moon Rising Over “Venus”

You just never know what you might see in Cabo! Last Thursday, my friend, Katie, told me about the super yacht that I saw north east of the Cabo San Lucas Marina on my way to play tennis with her, Andrea and Fadwa at the Esperanza resort. Turns out that it was “Venus”, the 257 foot super yacht that Steve Jobs had commissioned and started building in 2008 and never got to see completed before his death in October of 2011. Designed by Philippe Starck’s design company, Libik, and built by Feadship in the Netherlands, the yacht is now owned by Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs.

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Venus was, of course, the Roman goddess of love, beauty, sex, fertility, prosperity and desire. I’m not sure that this super yacht was appropriately named as this aluminum superstructure is far from beautiful (in my humble opinion!). She kind of reminds me of a floating Apple store – simple, functional, but certainly NOT sexy!

On The Road To San Diego

We shared a lovely dinner and stayed overnight with David and his gorgeous girlfriend, Jake, at his newly and beautifully renovated home in Santa Barbara on our way south. When we got back to David’s after a delicious dinner downtown, we found a note on our car that had been left by one of his elderly neighbors to apologize for hitting and damaging the front end of our car which we had left parked on the street. Ironically, we had just had body work done on the BMW convertible in New York and the car was in perfect condition when we started our road trip. We were leaving early the next morning for San Diego, so Ron had to get a repair estimate as quickly as he possibly could before we left the area.

David and Jake

David and Jake

We had picked up a new used car (a 2002 Lincoln LS sedan) in Santa Clara to drive down to ensure that my Mom would be as comfortable as possible as she’d been having recent back issues and we knew there was no way for the three of us and all our “stuff” to comfortably fit and travel in our little BMW. The Lincoln needed a new air conditioning compressor, which our friend, Stretch, had ordered and it was to be waiting for us to pick up in San Diego.

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Ron and I fired up our walkie talkies and got our damaged little caravan on the road to San Diego as soon as he was able to get a repair estimate in Santa Barbara. I was really anxious to ensure we got to the airport on time as my amazing little 83 year-old Mom was making her first solo trip – flying from Calgary, Alberta, Canada to meet us in San Diego to drive the Baja to Cabo San Lucas.

Mom Matthie

Mom Matthie

We got to the airport a little late and I was panicked. Ron found parking first and went in to find her at the luggage carousel while I found my way back to the airport and eventually secured parking. Ron found her there, as calm as could be, after having made friends with the airline escort who took her by wheelchair to the carousel area and, of course, several other people. Whew!

Ron needed to pick up the part for the Lincoln, so we took Mom to a nearby park and had an impromptu picnic (with the delicious sandwiches and food that we had prepared at Ron’s Mom’s home) and Mom and I had a chance to catch up while Ron was gone. We found a well-kept and clean motel for us, the Best Western Seven Seas (http://www.bw7seas.com), that had adjoining rooms for peace of mind. We had originally planned on crossing the border that day, but Mom seemed a bit tired, so we thought it best to let her get a good rest and we’d go into Mexico the following day.

Mom wasn’t terribly hungry that night, so we got her some soup and brought it back to her room for her. Ron and I headed to Old Town in search of Italian food as both of us had been craving it for some time. We wandered around to check out the sights and settled on Jack & Giulio’s Italian Restaurant (www.jackandgiulios.com) for dinner. The meal (we split Angel Hair Mediterraneo and Scampi Alla Giulio) and the bottle of 2009 Castello di Meleto Chianti Classico were great, but the absolute stand out of the meal was the basil orange vinaigrette they used on the salad we started with: an Insalati Cuere di Palma with hearts of palm, greens, tomato, and avocado. We almost licked the plate it was so good (Ron actually ordered more bread to sop up every drop of the dressing). Here is the closest re-creation of that dressing that I have been able to come up with so far:

Basil Orange Pesto Vinaigrette

½ cup fresh basil
2 Tbsp. orange juice
1 Tbsp. grated orange zest
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ cup olive oil

Add first 7 ingredients to your blender and pulse to chop and blend. Gradually pour in olive oil from the small opening at the top of the blender lid until mixture is completely blended. Chill 2 hours in the refrigerator and serve over greens or use as a dipping sauce for seared scallops or grilled shrimp.

We were really sorry that Mom hadn’t joined us for such a great meal, but she needed her rest after her first solo trip ever and all the excitement of the day. We shared many more great meals with her in the month she spent with us, however, and made some wonderful memories with her.